Last night, England’s World Cup dreams were dashed after Croatia defeated them in the semi-final, with the Three Lions’ early lead overturned in the second half.
Naturally, fans at home were distraught to see the team’s inspiring journey come to a close. But there was also an incredible amount of pride and positivity directed to Gareth Southgate’s team, who few had expected to go this far in the tournament, but ended up capturing the nation’s hearts.
- World Cup 2018 TV schedule UK: Full fixture guide for every BBC and ITV match
- Premier League 2018/19 live TV fixtures confirmed
- Sport on TV 2018 calendar: how to watch the Fifa World Cup, Wimbledon and more
And after the match, fans and famous faces (and even Prince William!) all came together to pay tribute to them.
Thank you for bringing us together.
Thank you for making us smile.
Thank you for caring.
Thank you for making us believe.
Thank you for giving a new generation a team to be proud of.
We look forward to giving you a hero's reception on the weekend. ❤️⚽️#ENGCRO
— BBC News England (@BBCEngland) July 11, 2018
They praised the team for uniting the country…
People saying ‘football didn’t come home’
— Jordan Meyer (@JordanMeyer1994) July 11, 2018
We’re as gutted as you are boys. And that means so much. A divided country in so many ways came together again to support you all and you gave us one hell of a tournement. Thank you #ENG
— Danny Mac (@dannymaconline) July 11, 2018
And for the skills and talent they demonstrated during the campaign:
Honestly no one can criticise this team in any way, done a whole country proud. Some great individuals in Trippier, Henderson and Maguire shone, but the squad as a whole exceeded all expectations, deserved to be in the final but couldn't be prouder. #ENGCRO
— Shaun ◢ ◤ (@Shaun97_LFC) July 11, 2018
They heralded a different sort of victory.
England may not have won the World Cup, but they've won over a nation and that, is a victory within itself #ENGCRO
— abber @ the house of hades… again (@AbbiRambles) July 11, 2018
To those who will mock us for saying football’s coming home, I say this. We never said the trophy was coming home, we said football. And it did. Look around, we’re proud of the boys, the streets were full of fans. God, some even remade Vindaloo. So yeah, it did come home #ENGCRO
— Owen (@bramdog22) July 11, 2018
Slap bang down to earth. The world is depressingly normal again. England took millions of us on a ride. They made our days brighter and our lives better. In itself, that is amazing. We experienced a wonderful, collective, positive experience and that is very rare #England
— Matt Forde (@mattforde) July 12, 2018
And there were plenty of famous faces – including a future king of England – sharing their admiration for the side…
I know how disappointed @england must feel right now but I couldn’t be more proud of this team and you should hold your heads high. You’ve had an incredible #WorldCup, made history, and gave us fans something to believe in. We know there is more to come from this @england team. W
— The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (@KensingtonRoyal) July 11, 2018
We still changed the history of the past 28 years ???? I’m proud of how far we came and proud of Gareth Southgate. Congrats boys ???????????????????????????? ????????
— Cheryl (@CherylOfficial) July 11, 2018
Unlucky lads . You did so well to get so far .
— Lord Sugar (@Lord_Sugar) July 11, 2018
And, as many pointed out, this wasn’t the end of the story for England, with the young team facing many more international tournaments in the next few years with the potential to do great things.
— Harry Kane (@HKane) July 11, 2018
— Michael Lee (@MikeRealist) July 11, 2018
We may have lost, BUT:
Kane – 24
Rashford – 20
Lingard – 25
Sterling – 23
Alli – 22
Stones – 24
Maguire – 25
Walker – 28
Loftus-cheek – 22
Dier – 24
Trippier – 27
Henderson – 28
Rose – 28
This is a young team, this is only the beginning… #ENGCRO
— Tyson Yassin L (@tyson_yassin) July 11, 2018
So no, Football’s not coming home just yet. But almost all the fans can agree it had a hell of a journey this time.
England will play Belgium for third place in the World Cup on Saturday 14 July on ITV